Allows the audience to bask in that rarity: a character-driven comedy/drama of infinite charm without pandering down to us.Bruce Beresford's Oscar-winning adaptation of Alfred Uhry's Pulitzer Prize-winning stage play makes for a simply delightful filmgoing experience. Jessica Tandy plays a rich Southern Jewish widow who, because of a recent auto accident and her inclining age, is forced to get around town with black chauffeur Morgan Freeman. The relationship starts out rocky -- it stems from the widow's stubbornness to admit the need for dependence on others rather than the chauffer himself -- but over a twenty-five year span (from 1948 to 1973) it blossoms and deepens to the point where, when they share what is possibly their last conversation together, they needn't say a whole lot to communicate their undiluted love of friendship for one another. In the wrong hands, the material could have easily been reduced to an unctuously maudlin mess; luckily, director Beresford manages to streamline an uncommonly mature narrative rhythm that touches upon the areas of racism, anti-Semitism, class barriers, and the innate value of trust without resorting to shameless didactic means. The period detail is evocative without going Masterpiece Theatre on us, the camerawork is mature and carefully framed without being fussy, the dialogue is occasionally piquant ("Momma, cars do not behave -- they are behaved upon."), and the golden cinematography gives off an eyeful without being attention-getting. Tandy is miraculous in a multi-faceted role that requires numerous dramatic shifts (all of which she pulls off without a single hitch), and Dan Aykroyd is flat-out wonderful as her exasperated son caught between his bickering mother and his equally bickering wife. One quibble: Freeman disappoints by giving a performance of thudding obviousness; it's functional work, but it sadly lacks any element of surprise. (His dynamic work in the otherwise-pedestrian Lean on Me earlier in the year was much more impressive.)Forget the overwrought "Born on the 4th of July", for this was the deserved Best Picture winner at the Oscars that year.